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Efforts of Emergency Personnel Highlighted During Crash Responder Safety Week, Nov. 13-17

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By the Kansas Department of Transportation

 

TOPEKA, Kan. — More than 80,000 vehicles are involved in crashes across Kansas each year, with emergency responders putting their personal safety at risk at every scene. With that in mind, “Protect Those Who Protect You” is the theme for the 2023 nationwide Crash Responder Safety Week, Nov. 13-17.

“The men and women who respond to thousands of crashes and disabled vehicles each year on our roadways serve the public and save lives,” said Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Calvin Reed. “They deserve our thanks, our respect and, most importantly, our assistance to keep them safe as they perform their duties. Always use caution when approaching a crash scene, and move over for any stopped vehicle with caution signals or warning lights.” 

The national safety campaign highlights the efforts of those people who provide Traffic Incident Management (TIM) throughout the state, including law enforcement agencies, roadway crew members, fire and rescue, emergency medical services, public works, towing and others.

In 2022, nearly 127,000 people were involved in vehicle crashes in Kansas, according to current KDOT stats, whether they were drivers, passengers, pedestrians or bicyclists. Most crashes are on or near a roadway and require responders to control traffic while handling emergency situations.

“Coordinating the responding agencies to assist those involved, injured or killed in the crash and remove damaged vehicles and debris from the roadway while protecting the responders and the traveling public are all vital elements to the job done safely and effectively,” said Shari Hilliard, State Intelligent Transportation Systems Engineer. “Unfortunately, responders get struck or injured frequently while working, resulting in even more devastating consequences.”

Since 2017, KDOT has also partnered with the University of Kansas and the Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute to organize and provide free TIM training designed to maximize safety for first responders. About 800 responders attended the training last year.

“It’s another way we’re supporting responders to help improve safety along the highways,” Hilliard said.

The Kansas Move Over Law also focuses on improving safety. It was enacted in 2006 and requires motorists on four-lane highways to switch to the lane farthest from any stationary vehicle displaying flashing lights, if they can do so safely. Motorists traveling on two-lane roads should slow down and proceed with caution. The law was expanded in 2021 to include any authorized utility vehicle or pedestrian engaged in work on the highway when the vehicle displays flashing lights.